7 reasons why a child might bully others online and the signs to look out for


No parent wants to imagine that their child could ever bully another person but the fact is, that might be the case. 

If you find out that your child has been engaging in online behaviour that has upset or hurt another young person, it’s understandable to be upset. Or angry. 

However, before losing your temper, it’s more important to find out why your child might be doing this.

There may be more going on than you realise…

Here are some reasons why young people bully others online:

  • Jealousy: They see a peer’s seemingly perfect life and want to do something to ruin it because why should they have everything?

  • Likes, follows, praise:  if an impressionable child gets validation for making a mean comment, it’s very easy to get addicted to the high.
  • Feeling powerless: If a child is feeling helpless or overwhelmed in one area of their life, having power over someone online can fill that void.

  • Anger Issues: A child with anger or frustration issues might see venting online as a way of expressing their feelings without having to deal with the consequences in real life.

  • Unhappiness: Misery loves company so if your child is unhappy, it’s not unusual to think that they might take their unhappiness out on others.

  • Outside Influences: Depending on who your child looks up to, they might see them gaining popularity for being mean or ‘real’ about issues and use it as a model for building their own profile.

  • Anonymity: Some bullies are just bored and looking for ways to stir up trouble. They think because they can create an anonymous profile that there are no consequences for them. 

Signs that your child may be bullying someone online

  • They seem to be using several different online accounts or ones that use a fake name 

  • They are very secretive of their online activity

  • They are insensitive or mean towards other schoolmates and peers

  • They start to mix with the ‘wrong’ crowd

  • They’re very concerned with their own popularity or position as ‘top dog’ among their friends

  • They’re getting involved in fights or verbal altercations at school

  • You frequently find them smirking or laughing at something online but they refuse to share the joke

For help and guidance on how to talk to your child about cyberbullying and digital empathy, check out our Digital Safety Videos page.

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